Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture

Comic-Con panelists analyze how to address a range of bullying behaviors.


San Diego Comic-Con panel
"End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture"

Description: Have you or someone you love been a target of bullying? Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition is back by popular demand with this powerful discussion on how to overcome bullying. Learn strategies to create witnesses and allies out of bystanders. Panelists include Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition founder actress Chase Masterson (Doctor Who: Big Finish), founder/moderator Carrie Goldman (author, Harper Collins' Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear), Brad Bell (Husbands), Anthony Breznican (author, Brutal Youth), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Jane Espenson (Husbands), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Psychology of Star Trek vs. Star Wars), Alice Cahn (VP of social responsibility, Cartoon Network), and representatives from the United Nations Association and Anti-Defamation League. Special topics include geek bullying, LGBT bullying, cyber-bullying, and analyzing how media and entertainment affect attitudes toward bullying and aggression. "From now on, Comic-Con convention-goers will come for cosplay, entertainment, freebies, autographs-and healing." CNN.

At this summer's San Diego Comic-Con International, the Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition founders Chase Masterson and Carrie Goldman led a panel of experts with a range of advice and personal stories to tell. Some of us know Chase best from her years acting on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Carrie as the mother of Katie "the Star Wars girl." Not long ago at a school maybe too close for comfort, kids teased Katie for loving Star Wars, which some of them said was just for boys. “Is this how it starts?” Carrie wondered. “Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers?” Writing about the experience online, she touched off an outpouring of support from people from many walks of life, not just celebrities but thousands upon thousands of others who knew how Katie felt or empathized with her in other ways.

Bullying is a complex problem that, regardless of one piece of advice I received during my own childhood, does not always go away by ignoring it, and it involves a much wider range of behaviors than many people realize. Simply getting away with bullying can make it self-reinforcing, which makes it more resistant to extinction (dying out through lack of rewards or associated stimuli) than a lot of other actions. 

Lawrence Brenner, who recorded posted video from the "Brain and Body by Batman" panel led by Paul Zehr, has also shared video from the "End Bullying!" panel, and Chase and Carrie have given me the okay to share it here with you. You can reach either of their fine folks online through Twitter (@ChaseMasterson and @CarrieMGoldman), where both show how smart, witty, and very responsive they are. Their panelists are interesting and approachable, too: Brad Bell (@GoCheeksGo), Anthony Breznican (@Breznican), Ashley Eckstein (@HerUniverse), Jane Espenson (@JaneEspenson), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (@ArkhamAsylumDoc).

Anybody who wonders why I've started talking about bullying lately in a column on heroes and villains really needs to think twice. To me, the connection is obvious, maybe even too obvious because I'm not simply lumping all bullies into the category of villains or vice-versa. Villainy is more complicated than that, and the issue concerns heroism, too. When we talk about developing strategies to create witnesses and allies out of bystanders, we're talking about finding heroes in the people right in front of us. 

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Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.

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